Peaberry Coffee is a family-owned coffee shop that opened January 2019 in the Kiestwood neighborhood of Oak Cliff. Owner Elijah Salazar, a teacher who grew up in Oak Cliff, lives two blocks behind the shop.
Salazar taught in Dallas ISD for five years before opening Peaberry. For years, coffee was his hobby. He visited as many coffee shops as he could in Dallas and while traveling. In doing so, he got an idea of the culture of coffee shops and the elements he liked — and those he didn’t.
“I used them as a guide for what I wanted in my own neighborhood,” Salazar says.
A “peaberry” is a type of coffee bean, one that is almost completely round so it roasts more evenly and has a more defined flavor than a regular bean. About 5% of a crop is a peaberry.
“I wanted the shop to be like that peaberry, an irregular, but special thing,” Salazar says.
Salazar took a full year off of teaching to open Peaberry. He didn’t have any investors, and his family was instrumental in making Peaberry happen. Salazar’s stepdad is an electrician, and his brother is an artist and woodworker. His friend Will Heron painted a mural in the shop, which brought in a lot of people in the beginning.
“It didn’t take long to feel like we were accepted by the community because I was already a part of the community,” Salazar says. “It caught on pretty fast.”
Peaberry tries to use as many local products as possible. The chocolate is from CocoAndré Chocolatier in the Bishop Arts District. The pastries are from Moreish Donuts in North Oak Cliff. The gluten-free options come from Unrefined Bakery. They’re currently using coffee from Eiland Coffee Roasters in Richardson.
Salazar’s favorite thing on the menu is the drip coffee ($2.75).
“We use single-origin coffees,” Salazar says. “A lot of times, places will use blends, but we use single-origin, meaning it’s from one location. It’s really flavorful, you don’t need sugar or creamer.”
Peaberry Coffee isn’t only about the coffee. Salazar wants to create a community hub for the neighborhood while highlighting local businesses.
“It’s been entirely about the neighborhood,” Salazar says. “We’ve been able to grow with the understanding and guidance from the neighborhood.
“This is a place where neighbors connect … and we can showcase local businesses through pop-ups.”
The day we visited, you could pick up your pre-ordered items from Merienda Monster, a small business that makes vegan, Filipino-inspired sweets. There were also Lonely Coyote masks for sale at the front of the shop.
“We offer pop-ups as a service,” Salazar says. “They’re aligned to our mission.”
Salazar doesn’t take any cuts from these pop-ups, rather he uses them as an advertising tool to bring more people into Peaberry.
In December 2019, he started Kiestwood Iced Coffee, small-batch, canned coffee made in-house at Peaberry. Will Heron designed the labels, which are being featured all over Instagram.
Salazar launched Kiestwood Iced Coffee with the goal of sharing Peaberry Coffee beyond Oak Cliff, while still reflecting back to the shop and its neighborhood.
“The shop is focused on the neighborhood, but the cans are focused on the rest of Dallas,” Salazar says. “My intention is to get these out.”
Kiestwood Iced Coffee is being sold in some local businesses, and it will soon be sold in local grocery stores.
It comes in three flavors: iced coffee, iced coffee with almond milk and Vietnamese iced coffee ($5 each or four for $18).
Peaberry Coffee has been able to stay open throughout COVID-19: It’s takeout only, but Salazar is finding creative ways to use the closed seating area.
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Salazar returned to teaching last school year, but he’s still focused on Peaberry.
“My goal is still to be within the community and a part of the community and support it in as many possible ways,” Salazar says.
“It’s a lot of work,” Salazar says. His wife Ann teaches high school and they have a 3-year-old. “We’re pretty busy. But it’s a passion project. It’s more than just for myself; it’s for the whole neighborhood, for Oak Cliff.”
Peaberry Coffee, 2446 West Kiest Blvd. (Oak Cliff). 214-434-1516. Open for takeout 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.